My daughter just completed her 10th grade and first Varsity year. She is a very accomplished jo player with regional and national 1st team selections.
Several D1 schools have her on their charts as well as Top 10 D3 schools. Her varsity coach will not play young talent and stated before the year started that she would not be able to beat out the other 2 outside hitters. She then hardly played in a 10 match summer tourney - Inexplicably he did not give his younger players time nor evaluate them but already selected his rotations for the year - and stuck with them for 24 season matches and never deviating.
The team started poorly and ended up at .500, the most losses in 25 years. Last year they finished 3rd in the state and the Junior OH my daughter is behind did not play but was on Varsity. The coach essentially gave her the position and never allowed my daughter to prove her skills or compete for a spot. It was an amazingly frustrating year and being a sports guy, I could hardly watch. I know JO's is where its at for girls that want to play in college. It doesn't make up for losing her entire soph season sitting behind a lessor player who's stats show she was a mediocre front row player. He plays upperclassman and favorites and when he decides its your time to play, only then will you play.
What I'm seeing is not based on logic, skills, or fairness. My daughter was not willing to ask for more playing time this year being the youngest player on the team. I don't feel it would have mattered. She played in the first 5 matches of the year and was playing well leading the team in serve % and passing very well from the back row. But then stopped getting playing time when the jr. asked for more playing time.
I played college sports, have a very good knowledge of vb, and my daughter was simply short changed this year. What would you advise for my daughter to do? I cannot let her waste another hs year just because a coach says she should. I know what I'm seeing but not sure how to handle it. Thank you for any input. JS
Thank you for your email and you are in a challenging, but a common situation - An illogical High School season situation.
Three points, and then a decision:
1. Club Volleyball, as you mentioned, is the dominant factor in the recruiting process. High school has become a time filler between the ever increasing club volleyball calendar season. Looking at your VolleyDaughter's situation from a recruiting perspective, if her goal is to play collegiate volleyball, than the high school season really does not matter. College coaches understand that high school volleyball can be a different animal. As college coaches, we sometimes feel we have won the lottery when a committed PSA has an intelligent and stable high school coach; there are many high school coaches which fit this description and many who do not. Don't sweat this from a college volleyball recruiting scenario.
2. You are not going to send me a Christmas card, but there is a certain logic to what the high school coach is doing - By limiting his starting lineup to the upper clansmen, he has eliminated any evaluation/talent decisions, and he has a 'logical' fall back explanation if and when he is questioned by anyone. In a sense, it is a brilliant plan to deal with the craziness of being a high school coach; wait your turn and then you will play. This way, he can hide behind his protocol, as not to have to make tough decisions on who has the talent to be starting. Also, it protects him from irate upper clansmen parents, and accompanying calls to the Athletic Director, when Mom/Dad are upset because their senior daughter got beat out by a stud sophomore. And, as long as he is going to the State tournament and doing well every couple of years, then he is good to go.
3. Because the High School volleyball season is the filler between club season, especially so when a PSA has elite level talent and the program/coach does not, it is best to view this time segment as free volleyball touches. Even though she is not playing in matches, she is still touching a volleyball in practice and still has the opportunity to use this time segment to get better (even if it is in small increments). If she is playing elite level club, and has quality club coaches, then she should know the skills sets she needs to keep sharp and needs to improve upon. You cannot control how good/bad the high school coach is, but you can control your effort/focus to maximize each day you are in the gym with a volleyball and a net.
Do you stay or do you go - There are really only two options; 1) Pull her out of HS Volleyball and then pay for private lessons to keep her touches upon the ball so she does not go three months between getting good repetitions. 2) Stay in the HS program, maximize the environment to get the touches and wait patiently until it is her turn.
My STRONG suggestion is #2, but to change your mentality - I would just step back and view this as a marginal camp, in which you did not have to pay a camp fee. You can't control the coach, you can't control the protocol, and to stress about it just will seep through into your daughter. Enjoy the fact that your baby girl comes back home every night and gives you a hug/kiss before bedtime. You will blink your eyes and she will be gone to college.
Remember the old saying, "the one eyed man is king of the blind"? Well, you are that man - All you can do is just stay positive, enjoy her warming up and being a positive teammate, watch her being a teenager with her buddies on the bench, give her big smiles when she glances your way, and then when she has waited her turn, enjoy her being the best player on the court.